Risks of Marine Shipping in Canadian Waters

Risks of Marine Shipping in Canadian Waters

The Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping (Clear Seas) has engaged the Council of Canadian Academies to undertake an expert panel workshop for the purpose of developing a framework for the characterization of risks associated with marine shipping in Canadian waters. The results of the workshop will be a published report that will be relevant to the marine shipping community and decision-makers across Canada that are concerned with marine shipping risks and risk information.

Progress Report

The Workshop Report is currently in production. It will be released on Thursday, April 28th, 2016.


Marine shipping plays an important role in the economy, with Canadian ports and marine terminals handling hundreds of millions of tonnes of cargo every year. The industry spans from coast to coast to coast, with the four busiest ports located in southern British Columbia, the St. Lawrence Seaway, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. The cargo transported by water includes relatively benign containerized goods, and potentially dangerous materials, including liquefied natural gas (LNG), oil, and other hazardous and noxious substances (HNS). It is predicted that Canadian shipments of some of these potentially hazardous materials, most notably LNG and petroleum, will increase in future years. The range of risks associated with transportation of all goods on water is unique from other modes like pipelines and rail, and the effects can be significant. Risks span environmental, economic, and social dimensions and can lead to a range of impacts, including marine life disturbances, loss of tourism revenue, and negative effects on food security of coastal Aboriginal communities. Further, risks will depend on a variety of factors, including the season, nature of the goods being transported, and geographic characteristics of the region.


The following questions were developed by Clear Seas to guide the expert panel workshop:

What are the main areas of social, environmental, and economic risk associated with key stages of marine shipping of goods [such as oil, coal, and liquefied natural gas, and Hazardous and Noxious Substances] in Canadian waters? Are these risks commonly agreed upon? To what extent are they measurable?

The Workshop Steering Committee

To lead the development of the workshop and complete the necessary background research, the Council’s Board of Governors appointed a four-member Workshop Steering Committee, chaired by Captain Dr. James R. Parsons, Academic Director, Marine Institute of Memorial University. For a complete list of Steering Committee members, visit the Steering Committee page.

Workshop Participants

Workshop participants, comprised of researchers, marine experts, and industry representatives, were appointed to respond to the charge set out by Clear Seas. For a complete list of workshop participants, visit the Workshop Participants page

For further information, please contact:

Tijs Creutzberg, Program Director at 613-567-5000 ext. 232 or tijs.creutzberg@scienceadvice.ca